Netanyahu: Israel 'will stand alone' if it has to

Netanyahu: Israel 'will stand alone' if it has to

Netanyahu: Israel 'will stand alone' if it has to

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu minister said Thursday that his country will “stand alone” if it has to in its war against Hamas — threatening to deepen a crisis in relations with the United States.

Netanyahu spoke after President Joe Biden said the United States would not provide offensive weapons for Israel’s long-promised assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Israel says that Rafah is Hamas' last stronghold in Gaza, and Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to invade the city despite widespread international opposition due to concerns over the more than 1 million Palestinian civilians huddled in the city.

“If we have to stand alone, we will stand alone,” he said. “If we need to, we will fight with our fingernails. But we have much more than fingernails.”

Biden's comments about providing weapons were the latest sign of steadily deteriorating relations between Israel and its closest and most important ally after seven months of Israel's war against Hamas. The threat of losing a key flow of arms has raised questions about Israel's ability to continue the war.

Earlier this week, it moved into Rafah’s eastern outskirts and seized control of a key border crossing. Asked whether Israel could press ahead without American arms, the army's spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said Israel already has the weapons it needs for the Rafah operation.

“The army has munitions for the missions it plans, and for the missions in Rafah too -- we have what we need,” Hagari said.

He said relations with the U.S. remain close and said Israel appreciates American assistance and that disagreements should be resolved behind closed doors.